Can’t find your car keys, forgot your shopping list, can’t remember the name of that nice person you met last week? You are not alone. Everyone forgets things from time to time. However, memory loss is not to be taken lightly.
Although there are no guarantees when it comes to preventing memory loss or dementia, certain activities can help. Here are seven simple ways to sharpen your memory.
1. Make physical activity part of your daily routine
Physical activity increases blood flow throughout the body, including the brain. This can help you maintain memory.
For most healthy adults, at least 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity is recommended. Like brisk walking, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity, like jogging. If you don’t have time for a full workout, schedule several 10-minute walks throughout the day.
2. Stay mentally active
Just as physical activity helps keep the body fit, stimulating mental activities help keep the brain fit. They can even prevent memory loss. Do crossword puzzles. Play bridge. Take alternate routes when driving. Learn to play a musical instrument. Volunteer in an association close to where you live.
3. Socialize regularly
Social interaction helps prevent depression and stress, both of which can contribute to memory loss. Look for opportunities to get together with loved ones, friends, and others, especially if you live alone.
4. Get organized
You’re more likely to forget things if your home is cluttered and your notes are messy. Write down your tasks, appointments and other events in a special notebook, calendar or electronic organizer.
You can even repeat each appointment aloud by noting it down to anchor it in your memory. Keep up-to-date to-do lists and check off items you’ve completed. Reserve a place, always the same, for your wallet, keys, glasses and other essentials.
Limit distractions and don’t do too many things at once. If you focus on the information you’re trying to remember, you’ll be more likely to remember it later. It can also be helpful to relate what you’re trying to remember to a favorite song or other familiar concept.
5. Sleep well
Sleep plays an important role in helping you consolidate your memories, so you can recall them later. Make getting enough sleep a priority. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a day.
6. Eat healthy
Healthy eating can be as good for your brain as it is for your heart. Eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Choose low-fat protein sources, such as fish, beans, and skinless poultry. What you drink matters too. Too much alcohol can lead to confusion and memory loss. The same goes for drug use.
7. Manage chronic illnesses
Follow your doctor’s recommendations for the treatment of conditions such as depression, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and hearing loss. The better you take care of yourself, the better your memory is likely to be. Also, review your medications regularly with your doctor. Various medications can affect memory.
When to Seek Help for Memory Loss
If you are worried about memory loss, especially if the memory loss is affecting your ability to do your usual daily activities, or if you notice that your memory loss is getting worse: talk to your doctor. They’ll probably give you a physical exam and check your memory and problem-solving skills.
Sometimes other tests are also needed. Treatment will depend on what is contributing to your memory loss.